TWO HUNDRED FORTY THREE…alaska sick

I woke up to the vibration of our behemoth vehicle thundering down an unfinished gravel road. I wasn’t sure where we were geographically. Physically I realized I was crammed into Cecilia’s bunk. Abby’s analogy homework pops into my mind in moments like these: wooden chair is to pinched sciatica as bottom bunk is to bulging discs. But giving up the feeling of her little back curled perfectly into my torso with our arms intertwined isn’t something I’m ready to surrender just yet. Plus waking up to a pile of her freshly washed strawberry hair haphazardly twisted into a bun on the top of her head is always a nice way to wake up.

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Once I had my wits about me, I remembered we were leaving Whitefish, YT (Yukon Territory). As my eyes focused on Cecilia’s pink panda pajama pants, I watched her little fingers rise and fall resting on her little tummy. I love watching my little inmates sleep. They are all so peaceful and perfect. They have their whole lives ahead of them and somehow, when I look at their little jaggedly square slightly dirty fingernails, I feel secure as a mom they are using their imaginations and creativity to their fullest capacity.

Basically the only thing as a parent I am certain of.

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We left Homer with heavy hearts and monsoon-like weather on Thursday. It’s better to rip the band aid off  just get up and go rather than to peel it off slowly lingering around looking at everything we will be missing. Abby was making observations all morning long about the dense fog and “Are we sure we want to drive in this kind of weather…it’s raining so hard out and really hard to see with all the fog around” to which Greg replied, “We’ve driven in rain and fog before…we will be extra safe and I know we will be fine.” “She just said out loud what I feel inside”, I remarked. The sideways glance from Greg is an unspoken communication I understand well…his, “I know you don’t want to leave, but this is the plan we’ve mapped out…if we stay, we …” “I know, I know” I answered back with my unspoken glance.

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Leaving the campground, we headed north one last time so I might grab a picture of the ‘Welcome to Homer’ sign. It took a full 30 minutes of crouching down, walking from side to side to try to find the best angle for my sign. As I examined the evidence, one thing was glaringly obvious…I suck at landscape photography. I just keep telling myself to log in those 10,000 hours and my efforts will eventually pay off. At least that’s what Malcolm Gladwell has lead me to believe.

Currently, we are travelling down the infamous HWY 1 (Alkan Highway) through the Yukon Territory. We breezed through customs yesterday and Cecilia managed to charm the pants off the stoic Canadian border guard. She wouldn’t smile at any of us. But when Cecilia came to the window, climbed over Greg and answered the guards questions, “What’s your name” with her confident, “I’m CC” and the guards’ “How old are you” with “I’m six” shooting the guard with her goofy crooked smile, the guard looked at her and tried to withhold a smile, but melted in the palm of her hand. Cecilia then relayed to the guard, “I have a pee pee sticker chart” and “I’m a big girl” the guard responded with an animated, “Wow, you are a big girl” she gave us back our passports and waved us through. It provided Greg and I with a good chuckle for the rest of the 8 hour trip. If those border guards goal is to not smile and remain neutral, she failed…just like the ones who allowed us into Canada. Their all effective, until Cecilia shows up.

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We were going to spend a couple of days in Seward but when we arrived, it was pouring rain. The forecast predicted rain for the next four days. The girls have grown out of their wellies, and we just weren’t really feeling it. Plus, I am excited to see my best girlfriend from college and her family in Minnesota as we make our way to Michigan. Even though we aren’t scheduled to arrive for another couple of weeks, I rationalized that running errands and tying up some loose ends for the RV in Minot (Why not, My not) North Dakota would be a great way to spend the next two weeks.

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Here’s something completely random: When I first heard Kings of Leon back in 2006, I assumed the lead singer was a robust fella who wore button down shirts with fabric gaping open between each button, so his sparse chest and belly hair could get some air. In my mind I just assumed he was kind of greasy and a little dirty with heavy bourbon on his breath. Maybe he had some scratchy corn teeth and always had a cigarette barely hanging onto his lower lip. I always thought of him in month old dirty jeans, well-worn cloudy black combat Doc Martin lace-up boots, along with his ‘devil-may-care’ rock star attitude every time I heard one of their songs.

I maintained this mental picture until Spring of 2014 when I was waiting in the pick-up car line of Abby’s first grade school. I was there early and probably listening to one of their songs on the radio. I googled Kings of Leon…low and behold, Caleb Followill, is neither robust or greasy. My bubble was burst. I still revert back to the picture in my mind, as his voice ABSOLUTELY does not match his face. I want the Milli Vanilli hipster to step aside and reveal the true scratchy vocal lead singer. I was utterly disappointed and desperately wanted him to be this arrogant dirty whale of a man. Until then, I will continue to listen to their overly suggestive lyrics and wailing guitar solos.

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So, we are heading back to the lower 48. I have that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. The feeling of my stomach doing somersaults because I’ve left such an incredible place.  Hey if something amazing happens in Homer, Alaska, and I’m not there to witness it, will it still a. happen and b. still be wonderful…even if I’m not there to experience it? Yes, I know the answer and I think that’s why my stomach is doing somersaults. 

I think I am Alaska sick.

 

 

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TWO HUNDRED FORTY…Aquamanning in Fairbanks

Living in such a small space with the same people day in and day out you find out so much about yourself.

For instance last night I learned that when I vomit, I sound like Aquaman. At least that’s what Greg tells me. I’m sure it’s true. He never exaggerates and isn’t dramatic at all. I must point out my sarcasm in the sentence above, just in case you thought I was being serious.

After eating at a restaurant I came home and didn’t feel well. Two hours later I was heaving over the toilet while Greg was standing in the doorway totally concerned saying, “I can’t believe your really puking right now. Are you ok? Can I do anything for you?” I mumbled something about a cold wet wash cloth and two minutes later he’s at my side with a sopping wet cold dish towel.

“That’ll do” I told him.

A few minutes go by and I can see him out of the corner of my eye. I know that look. He wants to tell me something, but he’s trying to gauge whether I’m too vulnerable for a little jest. Once I tell him, I’m totally fine and that I hope think it’s just a one-time thing he begins to tread lightly with, “I’ve never known anyone to sound like that when they throw up. Are you sure your ok? I mean, did you throw up a lung or a kidney?” To which I encouragingly reply, “What do I sound like when I throw up?” “Honestly, you won’t get mad?” He waits for my head nod and continues with, “You sound exactly like Aquaman.” From here on out, anytime I use the phrase, “I Aquamanned last night’ or ” I did my best impersonation of Aquaman last night” you can be 100% certain I am referring to vomiting.

And with that, I bring you highlights from our 6 day visit in Fairbanks.

Beginning in high school I dreamt about living in Alaska. Sometimes I replaced Alaska with Colorado just because it seemed more accessible. My sophmore year of highschool, I met a friend at sleep-away tennis camp who was from Colorado. She was a lot of fun and had really wild long curly blond hair. Right then I knew Colorado must be a totally cool place.

I’ve never met anyone from Alaska. I watched Continental Divide with Blair Brown and John Belushi a gazillion times so I felt completely prepared to handle anything Alaska might throw at me. Never mind the small fact that the film took place in Wyoming.

At this moment in time, Fairbanks is a jumping off point. A great place to settle down for a couple of days while we figure out the path we want to take. Our plan is to travel down to the coast, Cooper Landing, Seward, and Valdez. I’m enamoured with small quaint coastal towns. On our first RV journey, I was anxious to see if coastal Maine and Vermont were as amazing as the picture books described. Of course, being in both Maine and Vermont, it put the picture books to shame. I was in complete awe of their way of life and the absolute stunning beauty that surrounded them. I can’t wait to immerse ourselves in the quaint Alaskan coastal towns and see how these individuals live.


So while Fairbanks isn’t necessarily an end destination for us, it did allow us to recoup from our mega road trip, celebrate Cecilia’s 6th Birthday which I plan to write about in the next post, and get an idea of what our next couple of weeks might look like.

I was correct too by the way…I only Aquamanned once last night! Thank goodness. I absolutely loathe aquamanning!!

Here we come Seward!

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY NINE…buffalo, moose, and bears oh my

1,390 miles

14 hours per day

For 96 hours (a total of 4 days in case your like me and suck at math)

On Highway 2

That’s right friends we made it

A L A S K A

The final frontier

If you want to go back and re-read the introduction from beginning to end with your best Will Arnett vocal impersonation I encourage you to do so. I just did it in my head and I must say, It sounded amazing. And one more thing, when you read the line “The final frontier” make sure to use your lower register and move your eyebrows up and down in a really sinister way… just try it. It really helps in getting the message across.

Hmm where to begin. Do I start with the 4 days driving on half gravelled/half paved spine crushing roads. Should I open with a bragadocious piece of information about my finishing 3 audible thrillers within four days. Maybe I should begin with how overly enthusiastic we were when the trip began and how our attitudes for adventure quickly waned by the end of the second day. Or maybe, just maybe, I start with the end of the story where we were all willing to give Cecilia her own Tobagon complete with a group of Alaskan Huskies so that when she yelled, her directions would not only be welcome, but expected.

I guess it doesn’t really matter where I begin, as long as I accurately convey that 1,390 miles of half paved/half gravelled spine crushing roads will test the patience of even the most enthusiastic of road trippers and potentially jam your vertebrae together to pinch a large collection of nerves. We put in 12 sometimes 14 hour days on highway number 2 and it was every bit as treacherous and beautiful as they say.

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Along the way we had lessons in Science everywhere we looked, with all the wildlife roaming free around this vast landscape. We saw moose, buffalo, and many many bears. It was something to see these animals up close. It was intimidating to see how big they were and we were in an RV…which sits up pretty high.  The girls were enamoured with the animals facial expressions. We thoroughly entertained ourselves with made-up inner dialogues of each group:

Abby suggested the moose needed to cross the road to meet up with other moose peeps for their journey to camp…moose guarding camp of course.

Groups of buffalo looking to change-up their scenery would begrudgingly follow the leader of the pack. According to both Phoebe and Abby their dialogue went as follows:

Buffalo number 24 says to Buffalo Number 25 all the way in the back of the pack, “Do you know why Fred is going back this way?”

Buffalo Number 25 answers, “Fred pooped his pants and needs new underwear.” But it doesn’t end there, continue to repeat the poop line six or seven times and with every proclamation as if on cue, high-pitched giggling ensues.

We ran into some luck and actually saw a buffalo pooping on the side of the road, so that was the highlight of the day. Who am I kidding, it was the highlight of the entire trip…for the girls.

Both girls agreed the buffalo were heading to the nearest mall…for the Buffalo underwear…don’t want to be caught with turtle tracks in your undies!! The conversation went on for a lot longer than I care to record here. You should feel secure in knowing hours of “belly gas”  conversation which led to both topics of  belching and the always popular farting were discussed at length. Or more like ad nauseam. I hope with all of the “issues” those poor buffalo were afflicted with, they have finally recouped from their flatulent bellies. Fingers crossed on that one folks. Fingers crossed!

Of course all along our journey we saw several families of mamma bears and their baby cubs going scavenging and foraging for the upcoming school year. “They are hoping to find new satchels, computers, and shoes” that was my contribution. Not quite as exciting and scandalous as gaseous buffalo and camp-bound moose, but by the fourth day I wasn’t overly concerned about my creative responses. I just wanted to get the BLEEP out of the asylum on wheels.

Greg even swears he saw a reindeer with big fuzzy antlers which my friend Elena and I have named Boots. Unfortunately my friend Elena isn’t with us on our journey, but I pretend she is by texting her every five minutes to give her updates on our tremendously exciting lives. She’s super jealous.

Just kidding. She’s not jealous.

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For the first two days of our journey Thursday and Friday, I drove the entire time just because it was a workday for the hubs. So he used one of his many audible tokens to give me a 13.5 hour audio crime thriller by Author Gillian Flynn called Dark Places. This is the same author who wrote Gone Girl.

From the moment the book began to four hours later, I took my first bathroom break, which is unheard of for me. I’m usually an every two-hour potty break kind of girl. I drink a lot of water.

A LOT OF WATER.

Needless to say, I finished the 13 hour book just as we were pulling into our first stop-over on our very first day. I was dumbfounded for an hour or so, still completely enveloped in the world created by the author. I then promptly begged Greg to get the authors third book Sharp Edges.

The next day, Friday, 9 hours came and went and just like that. All the characters I had become so invested in, were gone. Poof. Into thin air. Never to materialize into the film going on in my mind. I had to shake these characters off. I was too tightly wrapped up in their world. I was too affected. Too emotionally involved. Attached. Invested.

It was time for a third crime book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. The summer of 1999, after graduating from my undergrad program, I moved to New York. I was terribly lonely and subletting a room with fellow classmates from previous years. I stole In Cold Blood from my roommate Jonathan, and read it on my subway commute to midtown everyday…because reading crime novels is a great way to lift your spirits. I wanted another book like Gillian Flynn’s previous two. So this is the book I picked. Let me just say, it was creepy in the summer of 99 and it was creepy this past Sunday when I finished the 14 hour book in one day.

In between listening to books, Greg and I would pause to solve all of the worlds problems and try our very best to ignore the screaming, whining, crying jags from the girls.

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After the first 14 hours of driving on Thursday Cecilia was over all the cool coloring books, crafting supplies, small fun little toys, and little books we had bought specifically for this trip.

Abby and Phoebe are old enough to switch from one activity to another but Cecilia really likes it when I am at her beck and call sit with and show her how to use the stickers and color in her coloring books, when I read books to her, and finally when I play with her.

I love getting her started on all activities…but then I am ready to let her play/practice on her own. She was not down with that philosophy…at all…and would frequently yell loudly voice her protestations.

And after the second day of her declarations, we were all over it. Honestly, I am surprised I still have hair. BUT, we made it.

We are in ALASKA.

I’ve waited my whole young adult life to visit this land. I keep pinching myself, it’s so hard to believe. I’ve built it up so much in my mind…what the trees would look like, the crisp weather, the fresh smell of that crisp cool weather, the sound of nature, miles upon miles of untouched non-homogenized lands, and of course the people who call this unspoiled state home.

As soon as my spine heals, I am going to soak up everything Alaska has to offer. I want to experience everything. But not if it’s dangerous. No danger here folks. If the bears, buffalo, and Moose could just sort of…I don’t know…maybe hang out around the perimeter while the Spranger’s are here…that would be great. Totally awesome. Seriously, completely awesome.

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TWO HUNDRED THIRTY SEVEN….don’t mess with me, I’m ebbing

Today almost became the day, where I remove the tops from our jeep, turned up the bass and blasted the Foo Fighters on the car stereo, bought a pack of Marlboro Lights from the closest gas station, put my favorite baseball cap on, and drove 45 miles north from Minot (pronounced ‘my not’), North Dakota until I reached Canada.

ALONE.

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Yes, I envisioned myself running away from home. It happens once a year, where my sanity is taken to the edge of a Grand Canyonesque drop and dangled off to the side of its highest peak. I don’t smoke, but today I contemplated starting. Just a big fat inhale of nothing but carcinogenic badness and an exhale of Abby’s constant pleads for taking the summer off from school, Phoebe’s inability to concentrate on the most basic task, and Cecilia’s blatant and defiant deafness to my voice…it seemed like running away with my jeep, the tops off, music blaring, cigarette in hand was the better alternative.

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But then Greg would be all alone with the inmates (as I always LOVINGLY refer to my wonderful children). If I could have my druthers, we would be running away together. And in this day-mare (like a nightmare and a daydream all rolled into one) our kids are seen in the last scene relaxing on the ground outside and bragging, “Wow, that was hard! I thought they were never going to leave. Ugh, they put up with so much…my kids will never do this to me!!!” and then they raise their chocolate milks to one another and eat their favorite peanut butter with pickle sandwiches.

The scene ends and lights fade to black.

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Today was one of those days where I question my decision to not only home school, but live with all five family members in a 300 square foot mini-assylum-on-wheels. What was I thinking? I’m looking in our pathetic manufactured in Thailand bathroom mirror (that distorts my face…and not in a good way) watching myself age rapidly and not even recognizing the person looking back at me.

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After a shit (pardon my french) morning, I thought we could all use a little break, breath of fresh air, a minute or two in nature to recalibrate our rhythms. Oh, who are we kidding, Mommy needed to recalibrate her sanity. I am referring to myself in 3rd person. I had hopes of taking the kids to the park and taking pictures with my old friend, TANK (aka my Canon) in an effort to bring us all some much-needed peace. Nature always brings me to a good frame of mind.

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NOT TODAY.

No cooperation from anyone what-so-ever.

The evidence is all around…every picture.

I was on the verge of a Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford moment, in the infamous ‘no more wire coat hangers’ scene in the 1981 classic film Mommy Dearest, when I waved my white flag of surrender high in the air.

  I  brought Cecilia back, set her up at the table with some goldfish crackers, ice water, and her fully charged iPad. I needed a break. I isolated myself in my bedroom, laid down on the bed, cried, and had myself a 30 minute pity party. And within 30 minutes, I was perfectly fine.

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Cecilia came into the bedroom, climbed on the bed, sat down on my lower back and bounced up and down for a while, then laid down beside me, kissed me on the cheek, and said, “Mommy, I need more water, ice, and fishies.” As aggravated and frustrated as I was with all three of our inamtes, they are so damn funny.

Such is life.

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Ebb and Flow.

Clearly I’m ebbing right now…I am anxiously awaiting the flow.

TWO HUNDRED THIRTY ONE…wellness

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There are so many great blogs out there related to travel. Blogs about food, full-time RV life, historical landmarks in each city, state parks across the US, …etc. Some blogs give you insight on the best RV parks/cities for families with young children with a plethora of options to keep the kids entertained. Some give you great suggestions if you have pets. Of course, there are the blogs for the older crowd trying to keep busy as well as staying far far away from campers with kids….most of those can be found in Arizona.

Some blogs give advice to couples who may be tandem camping. There are even blogs out there which cater to specific activities. For example, if you love off-roading or four-wheeling, there are a lot of campgrounds in western California, Nevada, and Arizona with actual off-roading courses built right in. Some of them even have their own restaurants and convenience stores so you can hunker down and never leave your little oasis.

I considered, before we started this adventure, specializing in something. A food blog was out of the question. A. I don’t have the genetic makeup which will allow me to eat my way through the U.S. and be happy B. Nor do I have the energy to research, visit, and write a critique all the amazing food choices. And, although not necessarily in blog format, it’s already been done….thank you Anthony Bourdain.

I could have pulled from my various habits, like photography, knitting, writing, and working out…I wasn’t jazzed about doing a blog where I focused on the best campgrounds to get a great workout. That could get old quick and I am sure I would have to get into webcasting which doesn’t interest me at all. I don’t knit often enough to do a blog about the best campgrounds to knit and people watch. You can and should be able to take pictures anywhere…same goes for writing so neither of those ideas sounded appealing.

I just decided to continue writing about our lives on the road…it’s my favorite subject anyway.

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But looking back with the information I have now, I am convinced I could write a fairly thorough blog detailing the best Urgent Cares each city has to offer. Or the cleanest, most kid-friendly, and efficient ERs out there.

Mississippi has a pretty good Urgent Care in Diamond Head. I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as kid-friendly or even clean but when I took Cecilia in for “clear drainage” from her right ear last Monday, they sure were efficient…and nice. Even more-so on her follow-up visit this past Monday.

I hate to compare other ERs to Newport, Vermont’s ER but I’ve never seen an ER look so immaculate, react so swiftly, and process the patient so efficiently. They are truly impressive. The ER in Gulfport, Mississippi was pretty clean, the doctor and Orthopedic Surgeon were able to see us within an hour of arriving…but it would have been unfair to compare the efficiency of the administration in Mississippi to that of Vermont’s. Some administrations simply aren’t concerned about efficiency.

So, when Phoebe broke her right wrist on Monday after falling off the monkey bars at the park playground, we were able to experience Gulfport’s Emergency Room first hand. As soon as we arrived, we were processed and asked to wait in any of the three available waiting rooms. We turned around and as always, my goal was to pick the one with the least amount of “sick” people.

The two on our right had patients who were close to hacking up a lung and there was a peculiar gentleman taking up an entire couch with his feet up and shirt way above his enormous hairy belly. The one to our left boasted of a family who were verbally accosting one another and it looked as if it was soon to escalate to a physical confrontation. So…we chose the deathly ill, scantily clad waiting room.

Great.

So just to recap our Monday, early in the morning, I drove Cecilia to the Urgent Care in Diamond Head approximately 25 miles north of our current campsite. Later in the afternoon (three hours later) we were heading back to the ER in Gulfport which was 45 miles north of our campsite. That’s a lot of back and forth driving from the same areas in one day…in other words, backtracking…this very thing would drive Greg to the brink of insanity.

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We were in and out of the ER within a three-hour time period. The X-Ray showed yet another ‘green stick’ fracture on her right wrist. It was the same exact type of fracture, in the same exact place, on the opposite arm, as the last time in Vermont, 10 months ago. The Ortho wrapped her arm in loose material and settled it with a sling. We knew the drill: The material, which is not allowed to get wet, has to stay on her arm for three days to allow for the majority of the swelling to subside; In a couple of days, we return and she gets a hard cast.

Fast forward to the ‘hard cast fitting day’ and she is presented with a choice of fifteen colors to choose from. Pink, green, purple (which I for sure thought she would pick because its her fave color), green and pink camo, blue etc…She ended up choosing white. Luckily for her, it was a glow-in-the-dark cast.

Rewind to last night, when I woke up to check on her around the 3 a.m. hour. Imagine my surprise when I found her wide awake and proudly proclaiming, “I know why my cast isn’t glowing right now mommy…because the window shade is letting in light from the street lamp!!” At 3 a.m. I did not want to encourage her to stay up any longer, but I had to acknowledge the humor in the situation…here she was bright and early on a random Saturday morning trying to solve the mystery of the not-glowing ‘glowing cast’.

After I pulled the window shade down, we tested her glowing cast. She sighed a big joyous breath of air and settled her head on her pillow. As I tucked her back into bed and kissed her good night, I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t enjoy writing about anything else. These are the stories I want to tell. Our story.”

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And of course, I have no pictures of Phoebe in her cast, because I have been too busy to take pictures of her cast. Those will have to come next week.

Have a great last week of April…where did that time go? Eleven months, right around the corner. Almost one whole year of being on the road. So hard to believe.

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY-NINE…we’re in Texas sha moe part 2

In trying to stay on point with part 1 I stated we were in Texas in the title but that’s no longer the case. We are now bunking in a small rural town in Louisiana.

We went from moderate humidity, cool breezy nights, and sunny warm days to overwhelming humidity, stagnant warm nights and equally stagnant warm days. Despite the continuous rain we’ve experienced, I know it is beautiful here. And I am pleased to report, the Pelican state has plenty of grass and trees.

When we woke up this morning, I informed the girls of my plans to re-organize the past ten months of schoolwork. It’s constant work to keep everything neatly arranged in its place and the girls are moving up a grade. So we are making room for the new curriculum and sending their old work back to my sweet unsuspecting mother. Out with the old, in with the new. They helped with Cecilia, taking her to the potty, keeping her occupied and fed while I hacked away at our school clutter and WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT AS SOON AS I FINISHED and the rain held off for a couple more hours, we were off to the campground’s pool, playground, and splash pad…due to the monsoon-like weather, I did not take any pictures.

Please allow me to backtrack for a moment. When I called to make a reservation Monday afternoon, the gentleman on the other end of the line sort of chuckled at me and remarked, “We got plenty a room…you ain’t gotta make no reservation”.

SWEET! “So this is a great time to visit this part of the state…it has to be…who would pass up a campground like this, especially when kids are involved!”  This particular campground boasted of a pool, splash pad, playground, big pond with gazebos and footbridges, and a small catch and release fishing pond.

As I finished the last of the clearing out, the girls scrambled to get their swimsuits on. We made our way to the front office where I was hoping to settle our bill, but just like it was on Tuesday, the sign on the door said “closed”.

We schlepped our way over to the playground.  The pool was pretty close by, but was an odd color. I thought it was the reflection of the dark blue tile on the inside wall…but upon further inspection, I realized the water-color was in fact black.

I rounded the corner to take a mental picture of the “splash pad” covered in 3″ deep standing water. The word BACTERIA flashed before my very eyes in bright red neon lights.

When I turned to peruse the playground, I was equally unimpressed. This week is going to be a bust…at least in terms of getting out and enjoying our surroundings.

Thank God it’s Thursday. Only 2 more days and then we’re heading to the coast of MS. Well, 3 more days actually, but Saturday doesn’t count as we have a major excursion planned.

The point is, we are not here…

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Lacking in stimuli here in our campground in rural Louisiana, I would like to continue with the second half of the story about our beach time fun in the good old state of TX.

Before we embarked on our epic journey 9 months ago, we decided it would be fun to buy a beach tent.

We aren’t really beach tent kind of people, but thought it might allow us to extend our beach stays past the normal three and a half hours.

Knowing this Spranger family and my husband in particular, it couldn’t be just any tent. It needed to be the newest most minimalistic and indestructible tent on the market. Introducing this crazy-ass tent.  It takes a strong understanding of directional wind and a very precise placement of support beams otherwise known as poles.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I believe, thanks to the pictures below, that I am Justified when I write, the tent and I have some issues. I am convinced this tent exists to point out my wind calculation inadequacies. Below are pictures of the tent throughout the course of one day. I would get it up, after 15 minutes it would fall. This continued for a period of five hours.

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229 l.jpgBut dammit I kept trying. Hoping with the tents’ billowy graceful falls to the ground the girls would see, that I was not readily relinquishing my goal to get that damn tent to stay up. I know onlookers noticed me not relinquishing.

I even had one man stand within a few yards of me while I was struggling with the tent poles. He had a quizzical look on his face. If I were to interpret his facial contortions I would say he may have been trying to figure out if I was a performance artist or just a regular mom of three struggling to pup a tent. I could tell he wanted to help, but I was determined to figure it out on my own.

I entertained the thought of jumping from behind the fallen tent, taking a bow, and holding out my baseball cap just in case he wanted to give me some money for the 15 minutes of entertainment I no doubt provided. I just continued to struggle. He finally moved on. He didn’t leave any change. Voyeur.

Then of course there was the whole ordeal of the girls covering one another in wet sand. I’m sure I don’t need to write about the state of our shower after that fiasco.

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229 c.jpgFinally, we are the family who shows up at the beach with every sand toy known to man. If you can imagine it, we’ve got it. And every toy is used.

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I feel good about the hundreds of dollars we have spent on beach toys because I know they are being used and abused. The big hit this year is the dump truck. Not just with Cecilia… it has become the toy Abby and Phoebe fight over.

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The toy that launched a thousand screams, “Its my turn Phoebe…you’ve had it all day” “No Abby, you had it all day yesterday…and you picked the movie last night” because young people use logic to justify their arguments…”Well Phoebe you hit CC earlier and took her doll away from her this morning” and as you can imagine it escalates from there.

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I have been trying to let the girls work their issues out on their own, hoping they will find a peaceful and egalitarian resolution without my having to mediate. Either that or I’m just too tired to referee knowing that particular argument won’t be the last.

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229 w.jpg“It’s mine”, CC aggressively informs them. I can’t help but laugh as she grabs the dump truck and bolts in the opposite direction as fast as her little legs can take her. “CC, give it back to Phoebe…she had it first…your not being nice!” “No CC give it to Abby, it was her turn not yours!”  CC throws it down before they can yank it from her pudgy little hands. Conflict resolution 101 folks. Throw logic to the wind, just sit and wait. Eventually, it will all work itself out. Once again, we are not here,

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Sha moe…I’m going to make a change, it’s gonna feel real good, ya know it, ya know it, ya know it, ya know! No seriously, I’m going to change my current position in order to make Greg a coffee, and it will feel real good. Sha moe!

Enjoy your Thursday!

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TWO HUNDRED TWENTY EIGHT…we’re in Texas, “sha-moe” Part ONE

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It’s official, Texas is quickly becoming one of my favorite states. We just spent a glorious week at South Padre County Park where we were mere steps away from the beach. Ok, maybe the word “steps” might be exaggerating a wee bit…our beach journey was more like a short jaunt. I would like to take this moment and express my happiness in the form of song lyrics of Michael Jackson, “Sha-MOE”.

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Which brings me to my story of the day. It doesn’t matter where we are, Florida, North Carolina, California, Oregon, New York, Vermont or Maine, I am the human equivalent of a pack mule heading on a long journey for a daytime destination.

I can see it in my mind and am certain it is a comical sight. I wish I could capture the image for you, heck, I wish I could capture the image for myself…but it would most likely make me sad. Suffice it to say, my enormous beach bag now being used as a bag for transporting sand toys, a medium-sized drink/snack bag, giant beach blanket, 5 towels, and my camera bag all while pushing Cecilia in the stroller makes me feel as ridiculous as it sounds.

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It’s no surprise for those who’ve been reading this blog or know me…I’ve always been open about my over-packing issues. BUT, I really do need all those things, assuming I want to have a relaxing day at the beach. If I don’t bring toys, the girls will pester me to play with them the ENTIRE time. If I don’t bring snack and drinks…our four hour stay will turn into a dismal 45 minute wine fest with impulse to pack everything back into their special bags and head home. Same goes for towels and blankets. And any time I don’t bring my camera, I just sit and watch all these wonderful picturesque moments pass me by.

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So, I am owning it.

With each step getting me closer to the beach, the load I would carry, reaffirmed my current life motto, I am a pack-mule. The looks, the crazy stares, and as always the, “You’ve got your hands full” commenters…I don’t care anymore…it’s totally worth it.

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We spent all day Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the beach. Since we needed recoup days, we used Tuesday and Thursday as “school work” make-up days, much to the girls’ chagrin.

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Cecilia as always, is the DJ for the entire day…controlling my iTune downloads and adjusting our portable Bose speaker volume. Phoebe was the self-appointed dj for the longest time until Cecilia relieved her of her duties when she refused to play Cecilia’s favorite Dr. Demento’s Star Trekkin for a fifth time.

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Despite having to chauffeur Cecilia around in the stroller, my duties at the beach have been greatly reduced. Everyone is getting older. I can sit, relax, sip on water, listen to Star Trekkin a gazillion times, and just watch my little inmates run wild on the deserted beach. Occasionally, I step into the DJ booth. I have rediscovered my 90’s all-time favorite bands The Police, The Black Crows, U2…and then ‘Fool in the Rain’ comes on and I just can’t contain my good vibes. I have to get up and run to each of them, kiss their little foreheads, dance like an idiot with them in the water, and tell them how much I love them.

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But I swear to everything holy, if I have to listen to Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ song one more time, my head will explode. Abby has discovered and fallen in love with Michael Jackson. “…As I turned up the pot of gold, my favorite winter cold…a broken bottle top…they follow each other on the window sill…and no mess is gonna man in the cliver…

What the crap is a “cliver”? I’m afraid to ask…yet, I need to know.

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“MOM, those aren’t the words” yells Abby disapprovingly.

Nah nah nah nah nah…uh huh…there is love with no home and not a nickel to love, could it be, would it be pretending that their not alone…a willow deep blue sky…Ja know…whew, whew, whew, whew, whew…Im’ gonna make a change, it’s gonna feel real good, sha-moe, you got to move, sha-moe…whew, whew, whew, whew…” before he whispers, “Make that change“. And don’t even get me started on the cowbell in the background. If you ask me, it really adds to the immediacy and importance of the message, “Man in the mirror…make that change”.

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Abby eats it up, “Mom, can we play it again? PLEASE??? And don’t mess up the words this time Mom, if your going to sing, sing the right words!”

Join me for the next blog entry where I discuss other issues I have with our beach trips, including but not limited to our haphazard tent  escapades, girls and their beach toys, and kids who love to get dirty… Until tomorrow…

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“Sha-MOE…make that change”

Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror

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